This week Google has announced the inclusion of a fourth pay-per-click (PPC) or sponsored advertisement at the top of its search results. Until now the maximum number of sponsored listings at the top of any search page was three, but if you type in a search for mortgages now you may well find four sponsored results at the top.

So far Google is only experimenting with this idea, and the fourth listing is limited only to searches for specific types of mortgage, but nonetheless it is important to consider how such a move, if it were to be rolled out across all popular keywords or searches, is likely to affect the organic search results.

At the moment being able to have your business appear within the top three natural results is critical for ensuring a high volume of traffic. But if there are going to be four sponsored results above the natural results, this means that the organic number one position is now almost half way down the screen.

For those companies who are at the lower end of the first page of results the impact is likely to be quite significant, and so it is important to consider a number of things. There is of course the option to join them rather than beat them, and include PPC in your marketing campaign if you don’t already do so.

Pushing SEO harder in order to drive your business further up the natural results on the first page is also likely to be very important at the moment. But it is also going to be ever more important to consider other ways to market your business online, such as the use of social networking and social media.

If you haven’t already considered these other options, then it might be wise to start making some enquiries in these directions now, before you find that we’re all shoved further down the page thanks to Google’s wish to increase its advertising revenue by a further 33%.

How do you think this new PPC policy will effect your organic SEO strategy? Why not let us know by leaving a comment below.